This Emmy-Nominated show explores how the Victorians invented many Christmas traditions we remember and quite a few we have forgotten. Harp guitar, classical banjo, chartola, and ukelin are but a few of the original American instruments to be featured. The aim of this concert is to recapture the feeling of a time before radio, TV, DVD, CD and MP3 players, and computer games provided most of our musical home entertainment. Amateurism was very much alive back then, and people actually entertained themselves, especially at the holidays! During the concert, Doan plays over a dozen late nineteenth-century instruments. These instruments were once popular in American parlors, on vaudeville stages, and in mandolin orchestras. In addition to playing each instrument, he explains their history in a entertaining and often zany fashion, shows slides of old catalogues and archival photographs, and leads the audience to discover the origins of many of our American carols and Christmas traditions. The audience becomes part of the show by singing (or whistling) along to a nineteenth-century accompaniment. John will include in the performance several of his arrangements from his CD release “Wrapped In White,” a collection of twenty-one arrangements and medleys of favorite carols performed on dozens of Americana instruments. At the end of the concert, everyone is invited to come up on stage for a closer look at the fine craftsmanship that produced these vintage instruments.
John Doan has performed with a diverse range of artists from Burl Ives and Mason Williams to Larry Carlton, and his virtuoso playing and arranging has attracted praise from no less a guitar luminary than Chet Atkins. He has also recorded and performed in the New Christy Minstrels as well as performed with Donovan, Rickie Lee Jones and others. He recently contributed a chapter to Between the Strings – the Secret Lives of Guitars a veritable compendium of the world’s greatest guitarists with foreword by B.B. King. He has appeared in numerous magazines including a recent feature in Christianity Today as well as staring in two much-loved television specials produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting: “A Christmas to Remember With John Doan” (seen on PBS) and his Emmy nominated “A Victorian Christmas With John Doan.” His music has also been featured on numerous television presentations including Walt Disney, among others. He lives near Salem, Oregon with his wife Deirdra, where he is an Associate Professor of Music at Willamette University.
Reviews In Print:
“It is hard to say whether Doan is primarily a musician, teacher, historian, or storyteller. The teacher in him wants his listeners to grasp the meaning behind the music … he bridges the gap with stories. Through these parables, Doan conveys spiritual truths that audiences might not accept from a more direct delivery. Those that have ears to hear it will hear.” —Christianity Today
“Call him Mr. Christmas.” —Statesman Journal
“… guitarist and composer John Doan, putting a new twist on the standard Christmas concert, brought that 19th-century tradition of homemade music to life … His low-key approach, in fact, effectively communicated the charmingly casual joys of the popular music of the earlier day. He’s performing important historical work, too, by making his scholarship and respect for those lovingly crafted instruments and the sweet, simple music they were designed for accessible to today’s listeners.” —The Oregonian
“John Doan breathes new life into musty tunes with his pristine, intricate picking, which is laced with the delicacy of a snowflake … that evokes the nostalgic, mystical side of Christmas and leaves the shopping mall sentimentality behind.” —Billboard Magazine